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Feb-16-2007 00:34printcommentsVideo

Salem, Oregon Friends Ascend an Afghanistan Mountain

DISPATCHES FROM AFGHANISTAN
Reporter Tim King climbed the Ghar Mountain in Afghanistan with two friends from Salem, both officers in the Oregon National Guard.

view from Afghanistan mountain
All photos by: Tim King

(KABUL, Afghanistan) - The mountain range towering over the image of an Afghanistan soldier is called the Ghar. It is a place where Mujihadeen rebels attacked occupying Soviet forces toward the end of their war here in the 1980's.

The rugged terrain of the Ghar Mountain rises almost sixteen hundred feet above Kabul, Afghanistan.

Soldiers and other military personnel climb the Ghar regularly, and if you want to be in this mountain climber's club, you have to rise early.

When the Ghar climber's alarms sound at 4:00 AM, the majority of the soldiers at the nearby Kabul Military Training Center go on sleeping. Most say they work hard enough without volunteering for this kind of extra duty.

On this day, US military personnel are joined by Canadian soldiers, British Marines and the Scottish Highlanders.

The different views you catch as you ascend the mountain are astounding. The vivid colors of the sunrise are as surreal as an oil painting on the canvas of an Afghan sky.

The rugged natural beauty motivates these climbers to keep returning.

Afghanistan is a high country, and this mountain rises from an elevation of seven thousand feet. Even conditioned soldiers have to push hard to reach their goal, the top of the Ghar.

Major Arnold Strong Oregon Guard of Salem, Oregon says the Ghar is a challenge and it keeps them in great physical condition, "it's a climb that we get to do pretty regularly out here at the training assistance group, because out here are the ranges that the Afghan use and the Coalition members also."

Col Dan Hokanson, Reporter Tim King and
Major Arnold Strong, all friends from Salem,
Oregon at the top of the Ghar

In high elevation, air becomes thinner, and a climber's lungs work hard to make up for the lack of oxygen.

Kevin Angoc of the U.S. Navy was born and raised in the tropics of Hawaii. He made it to the top but like many, huffed and puffed most of the way, "I'm thinking this is crazy, you see mountains like this in Hawaii but you don't ever think about climbing them."

Several different soldiers like Colonel Dan Hokanson of Salem, Oregon offered to carry my camera, but I kept it for the trip up. On the way down Dan packed it part of the way. I didn't want to put anyone in a bad position if something happened to it on the steep mountain.

Years of warfare have left their marks on the Ghar. Positions that are abandoned today were used by Mujihadeen fighters in the late 1980's when they ousted the Soviets from the military base at the bottom of the mountain.

Gun emplacement from an earlier war

It is the same base that the Americans and Coalition members occupy today.

Today the Ghar is peaceful, though reaching the top is no less daunting. Some who venture to climb the mountain fail to meet that goal, though everybody on this trip made it, and they all say it is a triumphant accomplishment.

The soldiers that reach the top of the Ghar Mountain in Afghanistan, more than 8500 feet above sea level, believe that it is the closest they can get to being on top of the world, on the other side of the world.

If you are interested in sponsoring a special report, direct from the 41st Combat Brigade at Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, email: bonnie@salem-news.com DISPATCHES FROM AFGHANISTAN "SUPPORT GROUP" Love Boxes Pioneer Pacific College Salem Police Eola Hills Winery McDonalds Restaurants of Salem Nopps Jewelry and Art Eric Mason Jesse Anderson Dan and Marti Motley David and Arlene Banks Scott Smith and Margaret Sanner Roger Yost and Alessandro's Ristorante Camo and Gear Military Surplus Tom Golden of Golden’s Funeral Service Other supporters wish not to be named, but we appreciate them greatly, and each and every contribution makes a big difference.

We will continue to keep you updated on the people and organizations that support Oregon troops and are making Dispatches from Afghanistan possible. A special THANK YOU to these Silent Auction contributors: Extreme Velocity Paintball, Beads-a-Million, SLAB, Oak Knoll Golf Course, Best Lil Roadhouse, Los Baez, EZ Orchards, Adams Ribs Smokehouse, Willamette Queen, Thailand Restaurant, Lela Kelly, Frank Matthews and Tina Miller Thanks! Salem-News.com is a locally owned news organization. Sponsorship of Tim's reports on Salem-News.com is very affordable with enormous exposure, and the reports will be archived complete with your commercial. If you would like to advertise, or join the others listed who have assisted through contributions, there is still plenty of need. Help the effort to bring home the stories of Oregon soldiers.
Send a check to:
Salem-News.com (AFGHAN)
P.O. Box 5137
Salem, Oregon 97304

Tim King is embedded in Kabul, Afghanistan with the 41st Combat Brigade of the Oregon National Guard. See his stories several times a week here, on Salem-News.com, and on Portland’s KPTV Fox12.

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MAJ Corey B. Chasse April 16, 2007 8:22 am (Pacific time)

Hooah, Drive on....Ft Sill, OK


engineer; February 17, 2007 11:18 pm (Pacific time)

i'd design two "smart mice".,one programmed to climb up the .,uh, backside of the raghead Bin Hidin' in Waziristan and the other one UPS'd to the Crawford Compound's "morning dew div." for installation in the new waterless toilet in the master bedroom.,just a little banger.,attn. getter, ,why expose them to the ralism of their own folly?


agt.009and 2/3; February 17, 2007 8:21 pm (Pacific time)

Maj. Strong, Lcdr. Singleton;, got a special deal on new product line! Battery operated "Pekingese Torpedoes" to take the place of those cast iron Bangalore's! Finally available!,for those hard to reach razor wire perimeters!, only one standard AA single batt. required!,(incl.in bulk purchases),shelf life commenserate with completion of objective, and these little bangers are radio beamed as "Smart Barks" technology.,solid state enviornmental frielndly, made of 100% recycled materials! Let me know and I can send some samples w/ Sgt. King in his camera bag, they are very compact and the new SemT-4 plastique allows shaped charges in the form of a mouse if you want.,Chinese randd!, The Sgt. and I are acquainted., but his reputation requires plausible denial. It's a c.i.a. thing maybe.,maybe he's the station chief?, nobodies talkin' and I just fly the planes.


agt 009and 2/3; February 17, 2007 6:50 pm (Pacific time)

they look like pros to me, only I'd be naturally reluctant to follow an officer armed with a compass beyond the perimeter.,(Uh,sorry sir.,of course, the Samurais must've heard the one about the most dangerous weapon in the Marine Corps being a 2nd Lt. with a compass and artillery back-up?, oh.,sorry sir, no insolence meant, none at all! no sir, hell no sir!)!, The Old Breed Rocks!, but the new breed does alright too I guess., only those officers don't have mustaches!(ex; Col Lownd's,) the 26th Marines C.O. of Khe Sahn,during Tet lunar celebrations?, last century as far as the govt. concerned.Our troops may be now facing it again in S.Asia,(today is the first day of Tet and the year of the pig is upon us, it goes on most intensly the first three days of the full moon and continues till next Lunar cycle begins, and historically/culturally/traditionally, has been used as a starting point for military advances well documented thru time. No humor or armchair jive intended! Get Ready is what I'd be telling you all if I was G-3 and close enuff to scream it., and also those officers have no ear rings!, dilineating single minded eccentricity heretofore not witnessed since "rice paddy and Ho-down days"!., or beards!, or noticable gray hair at all!, I'd be on these officers permanent private E-1 list!, so Sgt. King, always remember., Birds Live On To Fly Again!!,(BLOTFA), but dogs are easier to catch!


Tim King February 17, 2007 5:15 pm (Pacific time)

Jon,

Thanks so much! The time I spent with you guys was not only interesting but highly informative. I envy your ability to pick up so much Dari and communicate with the local people there.

With luck I will return in a few weeks and we'll have to drop it in 4WD low and hit the backroads again. I did receive a new batch of pictures from Gerry Golden today, it was great to hear from him also.

Jon Singleton is featured in this report on Salem-News.com: Oregon Soldiers Give Aid to Remote Afghanistan Village (VIDEO)

Osotan... I hope some day all kinds of people can visit a bed & breakfast here!


LCDR Jon Singleton February 17, 2007 4:56 pm (Pacific time)

Tim, really enjoyed having you here with us, keep sharing our stories and let me know when you want to go four wheeling around the Ghar again.


Lt. Mike Clauson February 17, 2007 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

Beautiful scenery and it looks like fun!


Climb boss February 17, 2007 12:14 pm (Pacific time)

That looked like a good climb for amateurs, or people in a war looking for something to do.


Osotan; February 16, 2007 3:26 am (Pacific time)

Talk about Iwo Jima! Man.,this is a fantastic story! What a place! No wonder you want to open a bed and breakfast there! I mainly have only one question though Sgt. King.,one question., that being, where is the ocean?, no palm trees? no sandy beaches? and coconut oil? You are amazing!..,yes Sgt.,we love you.,how can I say more.,what a sunrise!.,makes me wish there wasn't a thing called war. You are heroes all! were any of you restrained from skiing into Pakistan Sgt.? I don't want to know Sgt.,I don't want to know..

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.



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